Top 100 Best High Schools 2013 – Poolesville – Newsweek – 96/100

Top 100 Best High Schools 2013 – Poolesville – Newsweek – 96/100

Top 100 Best High Schools 2013 – Poolesville – Newsweek – 96/100



Poolesville High School is a public high school located in Poolesville, Maryland. It is home to a Global Ecology Studies Program; a Science, Math, Computer Science Program and a Humanities Program. It is also currently the number one school in the state of Maryland, as rated by Newsweek Magazine.

17501 W Willard Rd, Poolesville, MD 20837, United States



The core of the building was built in 1911 as an elementary school. The school housed Poolesville’s middle school and high school up until 1997 when John Poole Middle School was built.[1]

From the school’s inception until 2002, the school’s mascot was an Indian, and its logo was the profile of an Indian warrior in full head-dress. In 2001, amidst some controversy, the school’s students and Poolesville Community voted on whether to keep the Indian mascot or to change the school’s mascot to a Falcon. Although the students and community elected to keep the Indian as the school mascot, at the beginning of the 2001-2002 school year the Maryland Bureau of Indian Affairs overruled the vote. Beginning the 2002-2003 school year, the students voted to change the school’s mascot a Falcon.


Starting in the 2006-2007 school year, honor students in northern Montgomery County (“upcounty”) have the opportunity to become a part of one of three “houses”: Global Ecology; Humanities; or Science, Math, and Computer Science. Students who test to get in the Magnet Houses are “certificate” and are required to take the standard courses. Students who do not test in, but still go to Poolesville High School are able to become a part of a house called Independent Studies, but are “non-certificate” and can choose to take specialized courses.

Humanities House

The Humanities program accepted its first “certificate” students for the 2006-2007 school year. First-year students take Humanities English and U.S. History courses with the other Humanities House students. They also have several specialised courses. “Criticism in the Humanities” attempts to encompass every aspect of the humanities, including ethics, theory of knowledge, and racism. “Creative scriptwriting” and “CAP photography” were semester-long courses in the humanities house, but as of the 2008-2009 school year, they have been incorporated into the Criticism in the Humanities course. Sophomore year, humanities students take AP NSL and Humanities English 10 as year-long courses. They also take Guided Research and Media Literacy as half year courses. Junior year, Humanities students take AP language and composition in literature, AP World History and AP Art History. The Humanities program faculty currently includes a teacher that had previously taught at the Richard Montgomery IB program, Mr. Daniel McKenna (AP Language and Composition in Literature). The Humanities House is currently headed by Mrs. Emily Sigman. Other teachers include; Lisa Kellert, Michael Shannon (Former chairman of the village council of Chevy Chase, Section III and former national administrator of Hockey North America), Nori Thorne (A Fulbright recipient), Andrew Ward, Jonathon Leong, Percy Lewis Dryer Thackston Jr., and Terry Turner. Former Humanities teachers include Jennifer Yang, Jessica Douglass, and Mrs. Carol Solomon (the former coordinator of the RMIB program).

Global Ecology Studies House

The Global Ecology Studies Program (GESP), currently headed by Erin Binns, addresses environmental issues through coursework in science and social studies as well as field experience. In the senior year, each student completes a culminating project. As of 2006, the senior class has about 100 students, and later classes have had about ninety. GESP was co-founded by Mr. Jeff Laws and Mr. Thomas Reichenbaugh in 1990, and began in the fall of 1991 with a class of about 25 students. Jon Rogers heads the science department.

Science, Mathematics, Computer Science House

The Science, Math, Computer Science (SMCS) program accepted its first students for the 2006–2007 school year. Modeled on the Science, Mathematics, and Computer Science magnet program at Montgomery Blair High School, it is currently coordinated by former Blair magnet teacher Mark Curran, who also teaches Research and Experimentation for Freshmen, and Research and Design/Senior Research Project for Juniors.[2]

Before the start of second semester in 8th grade, students who reside in Montgomery County are eligible to apply to the Magnet Program. The application process involves a written application including essays, teacher recommendations, and middle school transcripts. All applicants are required to take a multiple choice and written exam in the spring on math, humanities, and logical thinking. The program is funded to accept 50 “out of area” (not residing in the Poolesville area), and students are only allowed to enter in the 9th grade In recent years, the number of applicants has reached record highs in the 400-650 students range. For the class entering in the fall of 2010, there were 650 students evaluated. It, along with the Magnet Program at Montgomery Blair High School, and the International Baccalaureate (IB) program at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, MD are the only countywide magnet programs at the high-school level in MCPS.[3]

One of the main components of the Magnet Program, and especially of the SMCS House, is the Senior Research Project (SRP). While not strictly required, completing an SRP is strongly encouraged, and approximately 80% to 90% of the students choose to do so. Beginning in the spring of their junior year, the students complete an internship in the sciences, participating in cutting-edge research. Usually, the project will involve an internship of at least eight weeks at one of the many research institutions in and around Montgomery County, Maryland. Interns work with a mentor throughout their research project, at facilities such as the National Institutes of Health, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, various Naval Research Facilities the University of Maryland, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Carnegie Institute. After completing their research, students write formal scientific papers and present their projects at the Magnet Research Convention, which takes place each year in early spring.

Since Magnet students have extra academic requirements, they have an additional class at the end of each school day (eight periods instead of the usual seven), causing Magnet students to end school 55 minutes later than most other county high-schoolers (at 3:05 instead of 2:10).[4] Ninth and tenth grade Magnet students take four courses each semester within the Magnet curriculum—science, mathematics, research & experimentation (R&E), and computer science—and four courses each semester in other disciplines (English, fine arts, foreign language, physical education, social studies, etc.) with the rest of the Poolesville student body. Freshmen in the Magnet take accelerated honors-level physics first semester and chemistry second semester; sophomores take Earth System Science followed by Biology. In addition to science courses, freshmen in the Magnet are required to take Fundamentals of Computer Science and sophomores are required to take Algorithms and Data Structures (ADS) where they learn how to program in Java. Juniors and seniors have fewer required Magnet courses, and therefore complete their schedules with magnet electives, AP science classes, or other departments’ electives. Some examples of unique elective classes offered in the Magnet Program are quantum physics, thermodynamics, optics, linear algebra, discrete mathematics, multi-variable calculus with differential equations, complex analysis with applications, genetics, cell physiology, biochemistry, marine biology, material science, astronomy, origins of science, and origins of mathematics. Poolesville students not in the Magnet Program can and do enroll in Magnet classes.

The Midnight Players

The Midnight Players are Poolesville High School’s Drama Club. Every year they put on productions of well-known and abstract plays and musicals of all shapes and sizes under the direction of the Gail Howard. The dedicated actors perform at their showings after months of hard work. The Midnight Players are part of the International Thespian Society as Troupe #5220.


10 buses service Poolesville HS for base-area students.


Poolesville fields teams in 17 different sports including:

Cross Country
Field Hockey
Snowboarding down Joel Hessels Neck. It is a very steep and long course located in Maryland. For more information on this new sport, please visit